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Should you Upgrade your Virgin Atlantic Flight?

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Your holiday to the sun is all booked, you are Caribbean-bound. Maybe you have put it together yourself, maybe through a Caribbean specialist like SN Travel, when an email pops through asking if you would like to upgrade your Virgin Atlantic flight. Thoughts of champagne bubbles popping at 35,000 feet start invading your thoughts, stretching out on a fully flat bed and arriving for your holiday in style. So, should you upgrade your Virgin Atlantic flight?

Disclaimer: This article was sponsored by SN Travel.

Should you Upgrade your Virgin Atlantic Flight?

Disclaimer: Having flown in all three of Virgin Atlantic’s cabins on multiple occasions, I am already a bit of a believer in upgrades. However, being a bit of a budget traveller, I have some reservations.

Don’t They Give Out Free Upgrades?

This is incredibly rare, despite a fair few “how to get a free upgrade” articles making the rounds of social media. If you want a better seat, the most reliable way to get one is to pay for it in advance of your flight. Trust me, as much as the staff would LOVE to make your day with a little bump up, most are not authorised to do.

Virgin Atlantic Airways Cabins

Let’s do this in a very methodical way by examining what you get in each of the different travel classes.

ECONOMY

There are actually three levels of Economy product at Virgin Atlantic. (I wrote all about it a few months ago, check it out here). So let us take a very quick look all three.

Economy Light

This is Virgin Atlantic Airway’s most basic offering. An Economy Light fare will get you:

  • A regular seat (31-inch pitch, 17-inch width).
  • 4-6 inch recline.
  • Food and drink onboard.
  • A hand luggage allowance (10kgs plus personal item), but no checked bags.
  • Seat assigned at check-in.

This fare is very restricted but can now upgrade, which is great news. This is obviously the cheapest option when travelling on a Virgin Atlantic flight, but this is all about upgrades, so let’s look at what you can have if you splash out a little more cash.

Economy Classic

Most people in Economy will have booked an Economy Classic ticket, and it is what you are purchasing if you are booking a package through a travel agent.

  • A regular seat (31-inch pitch, 17-inch width).
  • 4-6 inch recline.
  • Food and drink onboard.
  • A hand luggage allowance (10kgs plus personal item) and a checked baggage allowance (one bag on most routes, but two to India or Nigeria).
  • Free advanced seat allowance up to a year in advance.

I only travel with hand luggage but there are plenty of people who just wouldn’t cope without that checked bag. Imagine travelling to the Caribbean for the trip of a lifetime without your Instagram-ready swimwear, kaftans and big floppy hats. Even worse, going to New York in winter without big winter boots and a properly warm coat!

The best thing about this compared to Economy Light is the free seat assignment in advance. This means you can pick your favourite kind of seat (window/aisle) or make sure your travel buddies are sat beside you.

Economy Delight

Economy Delight gives you a few extra perks which feel quite special (you need to be in the know to take advantage of them though as they aren’t signposted that well at airports). Economy Delight includes:

  • A regular seat (31-inch pitch, 17-inch width).
  • 4-6 inch recline.
  • Food and drink onboard.
  • A hand luggage allowance (10kgs plus personal item) and a checked baggage allowance (one bag on most routes, but two to India or Nigeria up to 23kgs each).
  • Free advanced seat allowance up to a year in advance.
  • Check-in at the Premium desks.

Average prices for an Economy Delight seat are around £50 from Classic and £110 from Light and with the extra legroom, plus the ability to board sooner, we think it is worth it. You will be more comfortable throughout your journey, and getting on board to stash your hand luggage right above your seat is always a bonus.

PREMIUM

Here, you are taking a lovely step up to the next cabin. Things start to feel a bit fancy in Premium (as the name would suggest).

  • A purple, leather premium seat (38-inch pitch, 18-21 seat width).
  • 7-8 inch recline.
  • A hand luggage allowance (10kgs plus personal item) and two bags checked bags up to 23kgs each.
  • Upgraded meal service.
  • Wander Wall for snacks.
  • Free advanced seat allowance up to a year in advance.
  • Dedicated Premium check-in desks.

Food and Drink

The first thing you’ll notice about Premium is the enhanced food and drink service. Before the plane leaves the runway, you are offered a choice of water, orange juice or “bubbles” Sipping on a glass of prosecco really makes you feel like you are on holiday!

During the flight, the meal service is served on crockery, with real metal cutlery. I know that doesn’t sound that impressive but it is a nice change from the cardboard and plastic in Economy.

The food is definitely better in the Premium cabin. From the full bar service with dinner to the more grown-up meal options presented in a more thoughtful way.

Yes, I am warming my butter on my dinner to make it easier to spread (top travel hack)

The best addition to Premium in the last few years is the Wander Wall. This is a section of the galley that is stuffed with snacks. This means you can be a peckish as you like and there is always something to keep your tummy entertained. This unlimited access to nibbles feels like a little bit of luxury.

Seats

The seats do recline a couple of inches more than in Economy, and this combined with the longer itch means a less guilty recline and more comfortable rest. Premium seats all have some form of leg or footrest too. This makes a surprisingly huge difference to your quality of sleep, especially if you are on the shorter side. Not only that, but it is better for your circulation during the flight.

Speaking of legroom. Premium offers seven more inches than Economy. Again, that might not seem like a lot but you will notice it for sure (especially when you are popping to the bathroom).

I can JUST reach if I point my tippy-toes on the bulkhead row.

You also have more room between yourself and your neighbour. The double armrest/tray table means there is no elbow war to be fought and you don’t have to get your big tray table out all the time. As it is in the armrest, this is nice as it is a bit annoying to get out and put away.

The strange thing about Premium is that you might have forgotten the differences between this cabin and Economy, but trust us, you’ll notice it when you go back there!

UPPER CLASS

This is Virgin’s top offering. A blend of business and first class, Upper Class is great for both leisure and business travellers.

  • An Upper Class seat (22-24 inch width).
  • This converts to a fully flat bed, (6 foot 7 inches long).
  • Full meal service onboard that can be booked in advance.
  • Bar and snacks available throughout.
  • A more generous hand luggage allowance (12kgs plus personal item) and two checked bags up to 32kgs each.
  • Free advanced seat allowance up to a year in advance.
  • Dedicated Upper Class check-in desks, and a drive-in check-in at London Heathrow.
  • Use of Virgin Clubhouse lounges.

There are the very practical reasons why Upper Class is an upgrade (extra luggage allowance for example, but when you are going on holiday it is all about how it will enhance your experience.

First things first, the lounges!

Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouses are world-famous and for good reason. Not only do they have excellent food and interesting drinks, but all those quirky additions that Virgin is rather good at. Whether it is a pinball machine that is free to play, a collaboration with a local cocktail bar, tabletop games or a spa, there is always something to surprise and delight passengers.¬†Stepping out of the hustle and bustle of the departures lounge into these little bubbles of cool really start your holiday from the get go!

If you want to see even more about upper Class, read our full review of Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Cabin on the 787-900

Seats

Boarding through the priority lane, passengers are greeted with a full glass of champagne once they are settled into their seat. The seat itself is wider than those is either of the other cabins and legroom is not a problem..at all..for anyone.

You can almost squeeze the whole Flying Fluskey team in there….almost.

There is a small footstool in front of the main chair. This can be used as storage, a footrest and a little seat if you choose to dine with a travel companion. We tried this once as it sounded romantic but we realised we were both halfway through good films so gave up for dessert.

This footstool becomes part of the bed when its time to sleep. In Upper Class, you are going to et the best sleep of all the cabins. The seat converts to a fully flat bed, complete with mattress topper, duvet and big bouncy pillow. You even get a pair of pyjamas, known as a sleepsuit so you can arrive in unwrinkled clothes at the other end!

(Virgin Atlantic’s new A350s have a totally different design of seat but these are currently only operating between London Heathrow and New York JFK).

Food and Drink

The meal service in Upper Class is fantastic. There is a cocktail menu and a full bar to start with. This is available for your whole flight (although we tend to enjoy it to start with before taking a nap to arrive bright-eyed and bushy-tailed).

After your first drink (and a little snackette of crisps or similar) your food order will be taken. Virgin Atlantic is introducing pre-ordering of meal selection too so you can browse the options beforehand and order your preference. Food is served plated and course by course, with a selection of warm bread and premium wines.

See below for some of the delightful dishes we have had in Upper Class.

There is no doubt that Upper Class is a wonderful way to fly but it doesn’t come cheap!

So is an Upgrade Worth it When Travelling on Virgin Atlantic?

Here at Flying Fluskey, we think it is worth treating yourselves to an upgrade on your next Virgin Atlantic flight. Check out a travel agent like SN Travel for some great special offers on those higher cabins.

It may be a special holiday to a paradise island like Antigua or a quick getaway but either way, an upgrade is a very welcome addition to any long-haul travel.

Purchasing an upgrade is a treat. You’re probably aren’t going to do it every time you travel, but for a holiday it can make your experience so much nicer. Not only will you feel like you’ve started your holiday early but, more than likely, you will get better sleep on the plane, allowing you to hit the ground running, refreshed and happy, If Upper Class is out of your price range, Premium will make a real difference to your onboard enjoyment, and even Economy Delight has those fun little perks. So take the dive and spend that little bit extra for a touch of extravagance.

Rosie xx


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